April 24, 2008

Ithaca Bites: Mustard

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Nestled between consignment shops on Cayuga Street, Mustard is a welcome addition to the restaurants on and around the Commons. Still in its soft opening, the restaurant is the second in Ithaca from the owners of Dijon Bistro (my favorite restaurant in town), Mark and Courtnay Papera ’95.
As a frequent visitor of Dijon, I was excited to test the Paperas’ new “comfort food” restaurant and knew it would be good when they asked my friends and me which beers to serve on tap (we were all in agreement: Stella and Hoegaarden). So two of my Dijon-regular friends and I ventured to the new restaurant on its third day open, and we weren’t let down.
The hostess, a familiar face from Dijon, immediately apologized that no Pellegrino was chilled. After a few minutes of waiting, she brought out a bottle on ice, and ensured us that our second bottle would be chilled properly. These touches are what make Dijon and Mustard so unique: Not only do the small staff remember you and your sparkling water of choice, but they really go out of their way to make your dining experience exquisite.
Despite the beer taps on the diner-style bar, Mustard does not yet have its liquor license (Courtnay explained that the paperwork went through, but they are just waiting for the license to arrive). There is a liquor store located conveniently across the street, however, and Mustard was more than happy to provide us with a corkscrew and some wine glasses for the bottle that we ran over and purchased.
When it was time to order our meals, the choices were difficult: Fried chicken, grilled cheese, meatloaf and creative sandwiches were just a few of the tempting offerings. My companions ordered meatloaf and macaroni and cheese, which were delicious despite the fact that I really don’t like meatloaf or macaroni and cheese. I opted for a turkey sandwich with cranberry mayonnaise and crisp apple slices. Not only was the sandwich beautiful (especially with the pink mayonnaise), it was creative and had a deliciously unique flavor that you won’t find at any Cornell Dining eateries.
Even better, almost everything on the menu comes with a green salad and French fries. The frites with aioli at Dijon are just about my favorite thing on the menu (besides the chocolate mousse), and the fries at Mustard did not disappoint: Perfectly salted, with a touch of herbs; Mark created a new, more mustard-y aioli for the Mustard dipping sauce. If for no other reason, you should go to Mustard just to try the fries.
Overall, Mustard was just about perfect, and once they open for real (this weekend), all of the glitches will be ironed out. With entrees from $9 to $15 and open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, Mustard is a delicious place to dine no matter the day or occasion and a less expensive offering from my favorite Ithaca restaurateurs.